Back in March I wrote article entitled, “Is Depression A Chemical Imbalance?” I heard a little scattered applause and got some hate mail because of it. In the article I make it clear that there is no proven biological marker for “emotional disorders.” That is, there’s no known chemical balance for mental and emotional health, which makes it impossible to name and claim a chemical imbalance. When patients are prescribed the common antidepressants called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), their serotonin levels increase, which may help to increase feelings of pleasure and bring some relief akin to taking a painkiller for an injured knee. But neither depression nor any mood disorder can be called a serotonin deficiency; therefore, having more of it doesn’t cure anyone. Study after study found happy, healthy people with all kinds of serotonin levels, comparatively high and low.
So why, we wonder, do we still consider serotonin increase a cure for depression?
If the term SSRI doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps the brand names will: Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, Lexapro, Remeron and Anafranil. And that’s why. Brands. Capital. Profit.
But the plot thickens. Not only are these drugs ultimately ineffective in healing a person’s emotional wounding, fears, worries or confusion, but evidence is mounting that they may also have serious, no major, no deadly “side” effects.